Jump to content
Maestronet Forums

What Should A Good Violin Sound Like?


Fellow
 Share

Recommended Posts

Quote:

The sound is rich and it doesn't take much energy to project. I have to tone it down, actually, or I'll hurt the little ears standing next to me.


This appears to me to be at the heart of the matter. It's often said that Strads project beautifully with a light touch, but they're easy to push too far, choking the sound. Del Gesus are said to be harder to work; thus easier to prevent overpowering them. So, we have apparently opposite response characteristics in violins agreed by experts to be the greatest...player 'feel' (not perceived sound quality several yards away) would seem to be everything when selecting a master violin.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Replies 132
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Yeah, I meant to add that we do know it's a Strad model, which has always been my preference (with the fingerboard/neck thinned to fit my hand).

I haven't had it appraised yet, but it is built on the same model as my professional instrument--which is my mother's instrument which I've had for over 50 years. I've had it restored, also -- twice, actually. And it needs a new fingerboard now, too, I think, it's so worn. I'm just real cautious whom I'd take it to.

T.F.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree that playability is the first and foremost consideration for professionals. However, I'm able to tell the difference between my husband's violins from two rooms away, and I'm clueless when it comes to these things. His best violin has a different sound quality, no question.

Kind of as a related anecdote, my husband usually takes his best violin to music festivals, but last year he took one of his modern instruments because of airline security fears. At the festival, a colleague came up, commented on what a nice sound it had, and asked what kind of violin it was. They chatted about it for a minute, then the person said, "You had a different violin with you last year, didn't you?" My husband said yes, he did. The person responded, "That's what I thought. This violin sounds great, but the one you had last year was spectacular. What was it, anyway?"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Quote:

Erika, I really don't understand the distinction between violins and fiddles. Aren't they pretty much exactly the same, except with respect to the way they're played and the music that is played on them? At any rate, what is the difference between your husband's violins and fiddles?

T.F.


Then what, precisely, do you mean by your screen name?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Quote:

Most of the professional players I've met put responsiveness way ahead of the basic sound qualities of a violin, and manage to get their own sound out of almost any violin you put in their hands, so above a certain very basic level almost anything is fine, tonally.


Michael and all the experienced makers... 2 questions:

1. What is the determining factor(s) in a violin construction for a good responsivness? Is it dimension? arching? plate thickness? or others?

2. In a modern violin making competition, how do the tone judges judge the tone? Do they base on the tonal attributes? or the responsiveness of the violin?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1/Responsiveness isn't easy to build into a violn or everyone would be doing it. I think of it as getting the whole violin to work together, instantly, which isn't a matter of any one factor, but everything that a maker does.

2/I'd be inclined not to pay much attention to competition judging. Often the players aren't particularly the people I'd want judging my violins, and their taste may tend to be "how much does this violin act like my own?" Most people admit that winning a competition is pretty much a coin toss, not something to take too seriously.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This years tone judges include 2 Chinese guys from the Shanghai Quartet. I wonder have they ever played high quality classical instruments. Every pawnshop instruments would be winners when used to play Chinses folk songs composed during Red Guard debacle.

"how much does this violin act like my own", provided they play a Strad or a Guarneri.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't support Michael's contention that the competition tone judging is a coin toss

thing. From my experience in 1998 and 2002, after the results were announced, I would

go into the room and play the winners. I feel there is a consensus that these violins

have some sort of good playing qualities. I am not saying these violins could equal to

a good Strad. Perhaps Michael has an over lofty aim, he would only allow his violin to

be judged against Perlman's Soil Stradivari.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What if there is(are) violin(s)that have it all? I mean Good qualities that have been mentioned? like quick response, powerful, clean, sweet, as good next to the player's ear, as well as the audience 30_50 feet away???Why not...To my humble opinion, i've seen, may be one or two like that...I also believe that the setup takes a very importance role. Of course it has to be a very well build, high quality wood to begining with...It doesn't have to be an old one. I've seen a brand new violin that sounded like that...You may not beleive it...but it's true.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Todays the Chinese violin standard is very high either in players and violin makings. We do not know anything about it here because we don't want to know or we don't have interest of knowing it. ( Those Red Gruard days were long gone. It was a joke to the world, it was called progress proceeded in reverse gear ) Imagine say 0.000001% of Chinese like to study violin at young age. Please me how many Chinese are there? Unbelieveable number. I have witnessed a group of top Chinese players came to Chicago and played to receive awards from the Chinese Government. There were hundred of many these but being un-selected equally good players just stayed at home. Possible? Just my thought.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

(continue)

They played in the award ceremony some famous pieces in

the Art Of Violins (tape by Perlman). It was world class

playings in every aspect. You know ,they had to played something also to please the sponsors, therefore some pieces by Chinese composers. To be trueful I did not feel the same vibrations.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Quote:

1/Responsiveness isn't easy to build into a violn or everyone would be doing it. I think of it as getting the whole violin to work together, instantly, which isn't a matter of any one factor, but everything that a maker does.

2/I'd be inclined not to pay much attention to competition judging. Often the players aren't particularly the people I'd want judging my violins, and their taste may tend to be "how much does this violin act like my own?" Most people admit that winning a competition is pretty much a coin toss, not something to take too seriously.


Michael,

You seem to be holding out on something. In a previous discussion thread, you mentioned a story where you gave your colleague some advise on his violin making. Prior to the advise, this maker sold violins primarily to the amatures. You also stated that the Professionals judge the violins differently from the amatures. But you did not state exactly what the difference is at the time. Only until now, you seem to clearly indicate what the differences are. After your advise, this maker now attracts only the professionals but the amature customers have all left him. He then came back to complained to you that his sales volume has gone down dramatically because there are lot of more amature customers vs. professoinal customers. From this previous thread, you seems to demonstrate that you know exactly how to achieve this result. If this is your trade secret, that is fine. I will respect that.

I can see why a professional would rate response higher than anything else. A pro player is capable of generating their own tone with their hands. They do not need to depend on the intrinsic tone from the violin. A good responding violin does not work against their skill of generating their intended tones. Hence, a good responding violin can generate a wide range of colors from the player, not just the instrinsic tone color from the violin.

Also, I disagree your statement about "coin toss". In fact, there seems to be a consistent and systematic way of tone judging in various competitions. Else, how do you explained the fact that people such as David Burgess, Greg Alf, Frank Ravatin, and Raymond Schryer, consistently win the competitions? For example, Schryer won both VSA and the Trienniel with a complete different judging pannel. David Burgess won 4 VSA with 9 Gold metals. David Burgess won so consistently that VSA had to come up with the title of Hors Concours to stop him from participating VSA to win all the future Gold metals. I think there is something that they look for in the tone. And there seems to be something consistentin of the characteristics that they are searching in the instruments.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yuen, sorry, I haven't heard their recording of ChinaSong. My mindset was every thing came out that destruction era was bad.

The responsiveness is related to the acoustic impedance of the violin (very much similar

to the electrical impedance in a circuit). But the impedance changes from note to note.

Near a major resonance peak, particularly the one having high Q, the response is slower

because it would take longer to build up energy and also longer to die out. The response

will be faster away from the resonance freq. Generally speaking, the response would be

better with lighter and more flexible plates. Kreisler chose 1733 del Gesu (2mm at the

center of top plate) probably for its responsiveness, but Paganini took the thick plate

cannon for some thing else?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Violin sound from recording is not the violin sound we want

to hear. It is a compromise thing. If I have choice I would like to hear them (the Chinese virtuosos)play in person. As the Chinese music they played in that night it was not dramatic enough. Some of you who were in the audience might agree with me?

right?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Perhaps it comes down to the car analogy again - the automatic-shift Volvo against the Ferrari.

Since I'm not an accomplished player I cannot explain this in detail as my lack of playing ability won't allow me the necessary first-hand experience, but it is a matter of course that teachers will pick out a violin for a student from amongst my offerings which they clearly don't regard as the "best" on offer, and not the one they would have chosen for themselves, but the one most suited to the particular student. The term "reserve of power" which the Hills often used seems to have something to do with this. Certainly "tone" by itself would not seem to be the determining factor. At the level I can play the violin, the "best" ones - at least according to the professionals around here - are ones I find somewhat hard to play in my kind of way. Or, to put it the other way round - the violins which produce the same tone and volume whether I or a professional plays them (generally an easy response, open, free sound) are the "student" violins. the ones which the professionals get excited about, and on which the better players can produce an amazing variety of tone-colours and dynamics, I can barely manage a hoarse croak.

It seems to me that one can successfully make both kinds of violin, but not all rolled into one. Also, even a good player needs some time to "work out" a good violin. I've read some interesting accounts of this process by Anna-Sophie Mutter and Shaham (both concerning Strads), and I'm sure there are others as well who had the same experience.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Quote:

The responsiveness is related to the acoustic impedance of the violin (very much similar

to the electrical impedance in a circuit). But the impedance changes from note to note.

Near a major resonance peak, particularly the one having high Q, the response is slower

because it would take longer to build up energy and also longer to die out. The response

will be faster away from the resonance freq. Generally speaking, the response would be

better with lighter and more flexible plates. Kreisler chose 1733 del Gesu (2mm at the

center of top plate) probably for its responsiveness, but Paganini took the thick plate

cannon for some thing else?


Hi David,

I take it that you are an Engineer (Electrical Engineer). However, I beg the difference. At the "resonance frequency", the responsiveness is at its best. Another word, at this frequency, the "total energy" is completely transformed into accoustic energy. At this point, the "load impedance" is perfectly matching the source energy. Therefore, no waisted energy, or no "reflected power". So, the players would get the quickest response time.

By the way, some violin makers( or Paganini's cannon)choose the thick top for the "sweet" sounding and the "deep penetrating" sounding

Cheers,

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Quote:

Violin sound from recording is not the violin sound we want

to hear. It is a compromise thing. If I have choice I would like to hear them (the Chinese virtuosos)play in person. As the Chinese music they played in that night it was not dramatic enough. Some of you who were in the audience might agree with me?

right?


I love this forum, because of the very healthy debates are going on. I disagree with you about "compromise thing". Most people assume that live musics are better than recording...Which is not necessarily true at all. It is all depend on the size of the theatre and where the listener is seating. I've been to San Francisco Davies hall, on the cheap balcony seat. Forget it, for a violin concerto, it's a total completely waste of time. The performer looks like a bug , and you can bearly hear the solo violin. The orchestra however, sounds great!!! I rather listening to a CD recording with a good stereo sound system anytime...Unless you are at a small theatre listening to a recital only with a violin and an accompanied piano, most recordings produce better sounding.

Cheers,

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A lot of violin makers and players will tell you that they believe that recordings and the consequent expectations of listeners that a violin sound the same in a hall as on a CD have ruined the sound of the violin, because listeners demand that modern violins act like trumpets, necessitating a change in violin sound towards a coarse, loud, unsophisticated tone.

When people went to hear the great old players of the past, they didn't have the option of skipping the concert to buy a (artificially close-miked) recording of the soloist where one violin perversely drowns out 100 other competing instruments in every note of every passage and conductors could put the pedal to the metal on orchestra volume--they lived with what they heard in person, and enjoyed it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.



×
×
  • Create New...